by pastor david
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
I was born and grew up here in Ohio. I have lived in Columbus / Grove City all my life and I must go on record as saying that I love Ohio.
I hear lots of people complain about the weather in Ohio. They say it’s too cold or too hot or too something. You have heard the statement many times, “If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a few minutes and it will change”.
But that, to me, is the beauty of Ohio weather – its variety. The warm weather is slowly returning and the brilliant green colors of spring have begun to appear. Then, before we know it, the hot weather of summer will be upon us, beckoning us to the swimming pools.
Then, just before the hot, humid weather becomes intolerable, autumn is here with its cooler temperatures and stunning colors that dazzle even the greatest artists. The cold blast of winter then returns. Thus, the cycle continues.
But, therein is its beauty – its variety. When God created and put this universe into motion He declared that, “indeed it was very good”. In other words, variety is a good thing. God likes variety.
What if every Christian was the same? What a boring Church ours would be. You see, the beauty of a local church is in its variety. In our Church we have the wealthy and the poor, the healthy and the ill, the young and the old, the large and the small, the spiritually mature and the spiritual babes, the challenged and the challenging, the happy and the sad, the extroverts and the introverts, the loud and the quiet, etc., etc. But, that is what makes the Church beautiful – its variety.
God did not make all of us the same and He does not want us to be identical. He loves variety. I think He would enjoy living in Ohio.
Too often, we try to make little “cookie-cutter Christians” with all of us looking and acting just alike but that is not God’s will.
The beauty of His infinite creation is in its variety. What if every tree looked the same and every mountain range was identical and every baby’s smile was indistinguishable? God loves the variety of His people and His churches. Therefore, each of us is of equal value in the eyes of God. (John 3:16)
It is my prayer that you will always feel that you are valued by God, because you are, and that you understand that your identity is in Christ and in Christ alone.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Must we always be popular? There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to be liked and loved by almost everyone. To think that there are those who do not like us is often a crushing blow to our inflated ego!
Let me say very quickly that trying to live in such a way that people like us and enjoy our company is a good thing! The Scriptures teach us that we earn the right to be heard and to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends when we have a pleasant and winsome personality.
However, the message of the Gospel, when presented in its entirety, is not always pleasant and is not always readily received by those who have no personal relationship with Christ.
The Gospel contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are all sinners, separated from God, and headed for a hopeless eternity. The good news is that Christ has paid the price for our wicked ways and has provided salvation to all who will turn from their sins and acknowledge Christ’s Lordship in their lives. (Romans 10:9-10)
All of which begs the question, “Am I willing to be unpopular in order to tell the truth and warn others about that horrible place called hell, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels?”
I am not suggesting that we should be harsh and hostile when sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ but that we should be honest, giving people the whole truth, right from the very beginning. Telling a half-truth is a lie and a lie will never produce the kind of disciples described in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, this compulsion to be popular has also worked its way into the fabric of many churches and church leaders. In their desire to be popular, to be well spoken of, and to maintain high attendance numbers, they have sacrificed the purity and simplicity of the Gospel and told half-truths. They preach only the good news and never the bad news.
Believe me, I understand that the Gospel means “good news” and should be presented as such. However, the “good news” is not good unless presented in contrast with the bad. In other words, why do I need a Savior if I do not know that I am a sinner? What does Christ’s sacrifice on the cross mean to me if I am unaware that my sinful condition has alienated me from God? The “good news” is only good news in contrast to the bad news and the gospel, when presented in its entirety, contains both!
Yet, presenting that message is not always going to make you the most popular person on the block or at your place of employment. Nor will that make yours the church that is breaking all the attendance records in town! I am not suggesting that we should try to be unpopular but that we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
As a Pastor, I had to come to a conclusion long ago that was very difficult for me to accept. I had to come to grips with that fact that if I was going to preach the Word of God faithfully and expositionally, I would not always be popular, might not have the most popular church in town, and would probably not necessarily have a very large church. If the Lord blesses me with those things, that’s fine but I am not expecting it.
This is not difficult for me to accept now but in the early stages of my ministry, when the fires of zeal burned almost out of control, these truths seemed to pour cold water on the blaze of enthusiasm. Yet, time and trials have proven all of these things to be true.
The Apostle Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” I am glad Paul did not say that it is required in stewards that one be found “popular”. We are not required to be popular but we are required to be “faithful” to Christ and to the Gospel.
Yes, we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If there is a watchword that describes the Western mind-set today, it is the word tolerance. Many folk, in the Western world, worship at the shrine of tolerance. In the shaping of public opinion and the forging of national policy, many esteem a broadmindedness, which says any values, if sincerely held, are equally valid. There seem to be no absolutes today. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. In our day, people tolerate everything except intolerance.
Webster defines the word tolerance like this: “The allowable deviation from a standard, sympathy, or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing or conflicting with one's own."
That, in a nutshell, is the Western world. There is an openness that embraces almost anything morally, politically, or educationally.
George Gallop, America's pollster, says that 67% of Americans today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
In other words, right and wrong vary from situation to situation. It may be wrong for me, but right for you. For instance, they say if homosexuality is right for you, then that’s fine. If it is not right for you, well, that is fine, too. Whatever works for you is right for you. If it feels good, do it. However, the consequences of that way of thinking are terrifying.
Like ancient Israel, we have become a people who have forgotten how to blush. Nothing shocks us anymore. Tragically, we have become desensitized to sin. In the name of tolerance, we have now opened the floodgates to embrace every form of wickedness. An absolute standard of right and wrong is becoming a dusty page of ancient history. Who is to say which abnormal perversion will be accepted next? Will it be polygamy? What "alternative lifestyle” will be next to be embraced?
As the church, we are beginning to feel the tightening noose of the world around us. If we are not careful, we will soon be choked to death by public consensus. Yet, Paul warns us, "Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2)
I am certain you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer! A thermostat regulates the temperature while a thermometer simply registers the temperature. If given the choice, a wise person would always choose a thermostat over a thermometer. A thermostat is much more valuable than a thermometer because of its power to bring about change.
It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to begin to transform the world around us rather than allowing the world to conform us.
"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (Romans 12:2 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
These words were spoken to Joshua after the death of Moses, Israel's leader (Joshua 1:1). God had selected Joshua as Moses' successor (Joshua 1:2-4). The future, for Israel and their new leader, would be filled with great opposition as they marched into Canaan. But, opposition in the Christian life is always a sign of opportunity (Joshua 1:5-7).
Chuck Swindoll once said, "Life is filled with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations".
Israel's future was too important to leave to chance. The Messiah would come from this nation. The wisdom of man would be insufficient to lead the people of God. Therefore, God left Joshua specific instructions regarding the standard by which His people were to live and a map (Global Positioning System) that would guide them.
In these encouraging words to Joshua we can readily see . . .
1. A Specific Principle To Be Obeyed. (Joshua 1:8a)
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night." "This Book of the Law" refers to the book, which was written by Moses containing the first five books of the Bible we have today. This is commonly known as the "Pentateuch."
Here God says...
According to W. E. Vines, the word translated "meditate" is "found only 25 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, it seems to be a term reflecting the sighing and low sounds one may make while musing, at least as the ancients practiced it."
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed there is in this text…
2. A Special Pattern To Be Observed. (Joshua 1:8b)
"That you may observe to do according to all that is written in it."
Rev. Willard Wilcox used to say, "Breaking the law is like breaking plate glass; the largest or smallest rock will shatter the whole law." We have a duty to obey the whole law!
Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encourages him to…“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed and A Special Pattern To Be Observed, we also see in this text…
3. A Significant Promise To Be Outpoured. (Joshua 1:8c)
"For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success."
The promise is conditional - as most of God's promises are. The Lord promises…
"Way" means "trodden path." You will have wisdom to make wise choices about your future: choices about your career, your church, your education, your family, etc.
"What is success?" you ask. Success is discovering and doing God's will for your life. (Prov. 2:6 NKJV) "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
Lord, the road of my life is often filled with perilous curves, dangerously steep mountains, and dark valleys. It seems the devil usually causes it to rain or snow and the air is not infrequently filled with fog.
To be honest with you, sometimes I can't even see if I am on the right road at all, much less, if I am going in the right direction. Thank You for Your road map, the Bible and thank You that "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Amen.
"And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
What is the most important thing in your life right now? What do you want most in life? Most of us know what the answer should be but the issue is, what is really most important to you right now.
If you are not sure how to answer that question, just look to see how you are spending your time and your money. Based on where and how you spend most of your time, what or who is number one in your life right now?
I use the phrase number one because that is what the word "preeminence" means. The Apostle Paul told the church at Colossi that Christ was to have "preeminence" in their lives. What a monumental statement that is.
1. There Are Many Who Give Christ a Place in Their Life. (1:18)
Christ is on their list. To them Christ is just one of many things that occupy a place in their lives. He is right up there with P. T. A., Little League, golf, cooking, paying bills, working, and a thousand other encumbrances.
2. There Are Some Who Give Christ Prominence in Their Life. (1:18)
For them Christ is not only on the list but He is very near the top. He is right up there with family, job, and education.
To prove His prominence in their life, all you have to do is look for them on Sunday morning. Where will you find them? In church, where else? They may even give their tithes each week. Wow!
However, Christ will occupy only one place in your life and mine!
3. There Are a Few Who Give Christ Preeminence in Their Life. (1:18)
"That in all things He may have the preeminence"
In how many things is He to have "Preeminence"? The answer? "All things". Christ will never be satisfied with a place in your life or even prominence in your life. The only place for Him is "preeminence".
Turn to (Phil 2:5-11 NKJV), where we see …
(Romans 14:9 NKJV) "For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!
(Matthew 6:24 NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
It is impossible to accept Jesus as Savior if you do not acknowledge Him as Lord.
(Romans 10:9 NKJV) "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Who is this Person you are accepting? The Person is the Lord Jesus. "Jesus" is His name and "Lord" is His title. You cannot separate the two.
How does one keep the main thing the main thing? You do so by daily acknowledging Christ's Lordship in all your life.
Let’s take inventory. Is Christ Lord of your . . .
Christ must come first in your life. Your spouse must be next, followed by your children. Then, all the other people and projects that fill your life must be prioritized. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a personal relationship with God first. Then, the Lord gave him Eve. Why didn't God create Adam, Eve, and 2.4 children simultaneously?
It is because God wanted Adam to enter into an intimate relationship with Him first. Only after God was preeminent in Adam's life did the Lord give him a helper, Eve. When Eve arrived on the scene, she knew immediately that the intimacy she experienced with Adam was rivaled only by the intimacy of Adam's relationship to God. Later, when children were born to Adam and Eve, they grew up knowing that God was to have preeminence in their lives as well.
Lord, on _________________ (fill in the date), I received You as my Lord and Savior. Today, I reaffirm my original decision. In my life, You have preeminence! Obviously, that does not mean I am perfect, as You well know. Yet, in my heart and hopefully in my everyday life, You are number one - the Preeminent One. Amen
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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